Just like President Obama’s first state visit to the People’s Republic of China, the mid-November 2009 visit of a delegation of international church leaders to the state-approved church in China began in Shanghai and ended in Beijing. Obama’s visit was heavy on diplomacy, but he did raise some general concerns about human rights and religious freedom. Shockingly, it was the church delegation from the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) that remained silent on that subject.
Press releases from the church delegation could have passed for White House/State Department media statements. Written in glowing terms, the WEA’s statements were free of criticism of the Chinese Communist regime’s persecution of religious believers and other human rights abuses. One release noted how the WEA delegation was “warmly received” by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the Communist regime’s ministry for monitoring and controlling churches. Another said that they had developed a “warm and open relationship of dialogue” with the state-approved China Christian Council. What was missing in the delegation’s reports was mention of any meetings with the vast majority of Chinese Christians that worship outside the confines of state-approved churches. In fact, the reports failed to even mention the existence of China’s 80 million or more house church Christians.